Semifinals here we come

Super Melville stormed into the semifinals of the Chatham Cup for the second time in seven years with a 4-0 home hammering of Christchurch United.

(PHOTO: Grant Stantiall)

And with Onehunga Sports pipping Wellington Olympic 5-4 and Bay Olympic beating Caversham 2-1, it has removed the traditional poisoned chalice of a costly away draw in the semis, with the worst Melville could cop in terms of travel being the winner of Napier City Rovers v Albany United (Sunday).

Melville dominated from the start against Christchurch, and though it took 36 minutes to find the net, they then did that “seven minutes of madness” thing in which they quickly added two more, with Marc “Hitman” Evans potting a hat trick to take his goal tally for the season to 21 from 20 league and cup matches.

More historically, it took him to 87 career goals for Melville, pushing him three clear at the top of the club’s all-time charts.

Having effectively determined the course of the match, Evans was then dragged at halftime, either because there was a worry about his left hamstring, or co-coach Sam Wilkinson was concerned he would not turn up for pending wallpaper-stripping commitments on Monday. Such is life in the amateur game.

Evans opened his account with an overdue header, added a bread-and-butter second, and then smashed home a swerving long-distance free kick that had everybody on their feet.

And while everyone was talking about the free kick afterwards, Evans preferred his jack-knife header.

“I don’t get many with me ‘ead,” said West Ham fan Evans, channelling his inner Trevor Brooking (ask yer Dad).

Still, Evans wasn’t perfect, and his third goal only came after he had contrived to miss what appeared to be the simplest chance of the day.

In four cup ties this season Melville have netted 22 goals, averaging 5.5 a game.

It naturally drew comparisons with 2003, when Melville spanked then-national league club North Shore 5-0 at Gower Park (with Sam Wilkinson scoring twice) on their way to the final.

It was Christchurch’s first loss of the season.

“We were thumped,” admitted Christchurch coach Danny Halligan in heaving Gower Park clubrooms afterwards. “You did to us what we have have been doing to other teams all season.”

Halligan also praised the off-field operations at Melville and thanked the club (and sponsor Ruakura Fleet Management) for its organisation in assisting their trip north, in which they stayed Friday and Saturday night.

With Evans scoring a cup quarterfinal hat trick and setting a new all-time goalscoring record, midfielder Logan Wisnewski was an obvious player of the day choice for Wilkinson.

To be fair, Wilkinson said it was the play and work of team members such as Wiznewski which gave Melville the platform from which they could build and score.

Only downside for Melville was the seemingly inevitable bookings for Liam Hayes (ill-advised challenge on the Christchurch keeper when 4-0 up) and Josh Davies (argy-bargy in a non-strategic part of the pitch or game).

The draw for the August 24-25 semis is expected on Monday or Tuesday.

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